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23 October 2014

Buccaneers Quotes: Thursday, October 23, 2014

BUC BIT OF THE DAY: Buccaneers WR Mike Evans has recorded four or more catches in all five career games he has played, becoming the first player with at least four receptions in their first five games since James Jones in 2007.
Below is a brief selection of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quotes from today’s earlier media availability:
Head Coach Lovie Smith
Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier
Defensive Tackle Gerald McCoy
Wide Receiver Vincent Jackson
(Opening statement)
“Injury list, Brandon Magee did not practice today, but everyone else was able to do something, [including] Vincent Jackson to all of the guys that have been nursing injuries, most of you saw Derrius [Brooks] get hurt out there. We won’t talk about him necessarily, he should be ok. Injury-wise, we’re in pretty good shape. Practice-wise, Thursday is normally a big third down day for us. We haven’t performed on third downs the way we need to – we haven’t performed in any areas the way we would like. Third downs can give us an opportunity to play better overall, just getting more plays and that’s on both sides of the football. Big emphasis on [third down] today, good up-tempo practice, which it should be coming off of a bye week. Everybody is just ready to play that next game.”
(On defensive tackle Gerald McCoy’s comments that the defense is playing ‘soft’)
“We’re not getting off blocks, we haven’t played as well as we need to, we’re not making as many plays as we need to, so all of the above. I wouldn’t use that word to describe our guys, but we’re not playing the type of football we need to, we’re not being – I’m going to say we’re not as physical as we need to be, is how I would say it, in all areas. That’s one of the areas that we’re working on. Hopefully in time we won’t be talking about these things, but again we’re not where we need to be right now and if one of our captains says that and he’s out there playing, there’s probably something to it right now, but we can change it.”
(On if the team is informed about the quarterback position)
“Yes they [are]. Since you brought up the quarterback situation, let’s talk about the quarterback situation a little bit. First off, Mike Glennon has been playing good football. Josh [McCown] went down with an injury, we’re bringing Josh back from his injury and that’s a good sign to get him back out there. He’s had two practices since then, we’re making progress and that’s where we are. There’s not a whole lot more – it’s not fabricated, it’s just I’m excited about getting our two quarterbacks back out there and that’s a good thing for us. It’s a lot better situation for us and things take care of themselves. If I’m a starter right now and I’m getting reps, I have to play at a certain level or the next guy gets an opportunity, that’s how it is with all positions. That’s where we are with the quarterback position.”
(On if his biggest decision is whether or not to dress McCown)
“To me that’s the first decision before is if Josh had to play, can he play? And that’s what we’re working through with practice this week, to see exactly where he is. We’re trying different things on the practice field, we’re getting closer to being able to make those decisions, but that’s the first decision we have to make.”
(On if McCown is still limited)
“That word limited can mean an awful lot. He’s getting the reps that the guy that’s not in the starting position would get for the most part. We’re not letting our defensive lineman take off and slam him to the turf. Again, limited can mean an awful lot. He’s doing whatever we’re asking to do right now and making a lot of progress, I will say that.”
(On linebacker Orie Lemon)
“I don’t know a lot about him, as you said, you bring in a player on a Thursday – I met him this morning, introduced him to the football team and saw some of what he did on the practice field today. I don’t know a lot about him right now except for when Brandon Magee went down, we needed a linebacker. Orie has played in our system, he was with the Cowboys, with Kansas City, and Kevin O’Dea had him as special teams-wise when he was in Kansas City. That’s why we brought him in and I don’t know much more than that.”
(On if this season’s defensive growing pains are similar to the ones he had in his first year in Chicago)
“I try to forget any type of growing pains that I had in the past, but I know it is a process. I know that’s getting old right now, but normally you don’t peak right away in your program. We haven’t yet, but you do have to stay the course, but if you stay the course you start to see signs. It starts on the practice field and again I know what our record is and we do have to go through this, but there’s a lot football and in time hopefully we won’t be talking a lot about this.”
(On if players need to step up as they get healthier)
“[Dashon Goldson] has to and guys know that. We’ve missed him. Before the injury, he was doing some good things, missing all of the offseason. He was behind a little bit, but he’s back now. Hopefully he’ll be good to go and all of these guys should help us. Gerald is a couple more weeks with his hand healing up. Michael Johnson – as you talk about our good players – we need all of them to elevate their game, it’s as simple as that. I see them working to do that. The guy that has gone unnoticed a little bit – not necessarily unnoticed, but Lavonte David hasn’t missed a rep since we been here, on anything. Right now defensively we’re not playing good football so you kind of forget about him a little bit, but I just see him getting better and better. In time it we will see more of those type of splash plays from him.”
(On defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier playing against his former team)
“Leslie said it was just another game, that’s what he told me. Do you believe that? I think whenever you play a former team – when I left here and went to St. Louis I was excited to play the Buccaneers and when I was in Chicago and we came back and we played St. Louis and we played Tampa Bay, you’re always excited for that. Leslie knows a lot of people there, he spent a lot of great years there and when you’re competing against your brother or relative or someone close, you always want to win those games. As much as anything, Leslie knows we’re 1-5 and we need to get a win against Minnesota or anybody else that’s next on our schedule.”
(On if one win can completely change a team’s season)
“No doubt it can. Our first win went a long way. But right now with where we are with our program, yes. It’s an important week for us. I look at the big picture. The big picture is the leader in our division has two more wins than we do. There’s so much football left to go. But for us, just talking about this game, we need to play better; we need to look like a complete football team. And yes, that would do an awful lot. Every win you have, it doesn’t matter – there’s no such thing as an ugly win. Whether it’s one point or 50 points, it means all the same to find a way to be in that winning column, and that’s what we’re shooting for.”
(On what impressed him about Minnesota quarterback Teddy Bridgewater while evaluating him before the NFL Draft)
“I did get a chance to meet with him. What I liked about him – probably easier to say what didn’t you like about him. He was easy to talk to, he’s a confident guy, has had a lot of success and felt good about his chances. You kind of look at how a player you feel like – personality-wise, talking with him, going over how we do things, how you think they would fit with our group and just felt real comfortable with him. The quarterback and head coach have to have a certain relationship too. Very impressed with him. I assumed he would be drafted high and be somebody’s quarterback of the future. The future came a little bit quicker for Teddy.”
(On if there is a position group that he leans on)
“That’s kind of hard to say right now with how we’ve played, but I think the first group that I lean on are the lines. It starts with them. Offensively, this is a good [defensive] front we have coming in [for Minnesota]. They rush the [passer] – 20 sacks or whatever. They’re athletic, they’re stout. So our offensive line has to play well this week. And on the other side of the football, I think it’s documented what we think about our defensive line. Those two groups have to lead us. everything else works better once we get those two going. We haven’t. But this is as close to a healthy group as we’ve had and it’s time for us to play. Play ball right away.”
(Opening statement)
“Good day to be back on the field and getting ready for our next opponent, who I’m somewhat familiar with. Our guys had the bye week; they seem to be well rested at this point and anxious to get started again with today’s practice. We had a good practice yesterday and hopefully we can build on that on defense and have a good day today as well. Big day for us: third down – an area where we’ve got to improve. We’ll spend a lot of time working on third-down defense today.”
(On if he can help the team prepare better for Minnesota having recently been its head coach)
“There’s still some guys that I have familiarity with, but they’re doing some different things. I’ve shared what I could with our coaches and some of our players about some of their personnel. But they’re doing different things than when I was there, so they’re asked to do different things.”
(On if he can prepare the team for some of Minnesota’s players’ tendencies)
“Yes and no. They’re utilizing some of the players differently than when we were there. But you kind of have an idea of what a guy’s strengths and weaknesses were and you try to take a look at the tape to see have they improved in those areas. But we’re trying to come up with a good plan like we would for any team and hopefully what we come up with will be effective.”
(On potential backups to defensive tackle Gerald McCoy during defensive lineman Da’Quan Bowers’ two-game suspension)
“Well we’ve lined up Clinton McDonald there at times – he’ll get some work there. We’ve even lined up – we have in practice at least – lined up William Gholston there at times. We’ll have to have a way to give Gerald a break, especially with the fact that he’s still playing with a cast on his hand. You’ve got to get him off the field at times. Between those two guys, there’s not much else after that.”
(On if the team has been lacking physicality lately)
“I don’t think physicality has been lacking. Playmaking – that’s been lacking. We need to make more plays in what we’re doing on defense – whether it’s against the run or against the pass. Just making more plays and finding ways to make enough plays to help our team. That, to me, has been our biggest issue. Not the physicality. I don’t think we’re not tackling or not approaching the game the right way – we’re just not making enough plays on defense at this point.”
(On if he found any issues in the defense in his self-scouting over the bye week)
“We saw some of that when we looked at the tape looking back at the first part of our season and just trying to figure out what we can do to improve. And there were times where we were just maybe a step away from maybe making a play, and some things we needed to tweak in what we’re saying and how we’re saying it and how we’re teaching it as well. Now it’s a matter of, when we get on the field, some of the things we’ve worked on here in the bye week, will it carry over to Sunday? We think it will based on the way we practiced at the end of last week and at the start of this week. We think we learned a lot about ourselves, about our players. That should help us in this next ball game.”
(On if he will try to confuse Minnesota rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater)
“Well, he’s handled situations pretty good in his first few starts in the league. He’s showed a lot of poise and a lot of composure at the quarterback position and he looks like he’s going to be a guy that’s going to continue to grow and get better. But that being said, you’d like to be able to find a way to rattle a young quarterback as much as you can. But he’s shown he’s more than capable – when you watch the Atlanta game – of making plays. So we’ll have to be conscious of that. He can move around as well – he’s an agile quarterback. So he’s got some play-making abilities.”
(On if there is a simplified version of the Tampa 2 the team can run while learning the scheme)
“I think for us, it’s just a matter of getting some more continuity with our guys. We’ve had some rotation going – not by choice – in these first six weeks. That has had a lot to do with our not being where we need to be in certain situations. We’ve got to get more practice time together, more game time together. I don’t know if we’ve practiced twice in a row with the same starting lineup from the beginning of the season. So this is probably the healthiest that we’ve been for a while. And for that reason, I’m optimistic about our performance on Sunday more than anything – more than the scheme, anything else. We’re able to practice together as a group with our middle linebacker, with our ends, with our tackles, with our secondary intact. This is probably the most practice time we’ve had together since before the first game of the season. I think that’s going to help us.”
(On if this game has more meaning to him because he is facing his former team)
“When you’re sitting at 1-5 as a team and with our – I’m not big into stats – but more of the 1-5 factor, that overrides everything. You look at where our division is and you realize that this win could get us started. So that really supersedes everything else. Our being able to get a win on Sunday would be so good for our team and what we’re trying to get accomplished this season.”
(On if he is worried about the depth at linebacker)
“Absolutely. When you’re down – like yesterday when Brandon [Magee] went down, who’s our fourth linebacker – you felt like, ‘What’s next?’ We had a situation in the Baltimore game where Danny [Lansanah] had to leave the game and Brandon gets a little dinged and then Dane [Fletcher] had to come in. It’s been a revolving door at some of the positions. But in our league, to be lining up with three guys and to say that nobody’s going to get hurt over the course of four quarters is simply not going to happen – you’re fooling yourself. You need better depth without question.”
(On his wishes for his former players running back Adrian Peterson and wide receiver Percy Harvin going forward)
“Tremendous talents as you know. Pro Bowl players – both of them. Enjoyed my time with them, I loved both of them. Haven’t talked to Percy in a while. I have talked to Adrian through some of the things he’s going through. And I wish both of them nothing but the best. They were great for me, they helped me tremendously during my time with them, and they know from the bottom of my heart I wish nothing but the best for both of them in their future endeavors, whatever they may be.”
(On if Peterson and Harvin were coachable players during his time in Minnesota)
“Oh yeah. Very much so. Adrian, I don’t know if there’s a better superstar that warrants the accolades more than he does. From my standpoint as a coach, he was what you want to see in a superstar player: practiced hard, gracious to his teammates, it was never about him. Percy: tremendous player, tremendous playmaker. We didn’t always see eye-to-eye on some things, but at the end of the day, we both wanted the same thing for our team and that was to win. Great competitors. Guys that I have a lot of respect for.”
(On why the defense has given up big plays despite running a defensive scheme designed to prevent them)
“I think on defense, whatever the scheme is, whether you’re a three-deep team or two-deep team [or] one single high team, you don’t want to be giving up big plays, you don’t want balls going over the top of your defense. So no matter what scheme we’re running, that’s still something on defense you have to get taken care of. I’m hoping – we all are – that through this bye week, we fixed some of those things that have given us problems. That’s how we’re approaching it and that’s how we’re working this week.”
(On if Minnesota’s loss of Peterson has affected the team’s confidence level)
“One of the things I talked to our defense about on Wednesday when [I] in earnest began to talk about our gameplan was [that] our focus has to be on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense and what we have to do to improve and haven’t really talked about that a player loss might have on your opponent. And so for me to speak on that, that’s more for them to speak on. I know for us, we really have to concentrate on the Buccaneers and what we have to do to get better, and that’s what we’ve tried to do during this bye week and now leading up to the game week as well. Just trying to figure out how we can get better.”
(On if he thinks Minnesota has still been running the ball effectively despite the loss of Peterson)
“They are. They’re averaging 125 yards a game, which is 10th in the league. [Jerick] McKinnon, a young rookie running back, averaging five yards a clip. So they’re running the football very well and we’re going to have to find a way to slow that run game down.”
(On if the defense needs to get back to swarming to the football)
“Yeah, we definitely do. A lot of the things from the last game was just guys were in the wrong spot. It wasn’t really that guys were not swarming to the ball – it was just guys were in the wrong spot. One guy being in the wrong spot can lead to a huge hole, where as if one guy is in the right spot, then that guy has to cut back into a crowd of people. We’ve just got to make sure we’re on our assignments.”
(On what the defense needs to do to get off to a better start in games)
“One, it starts with preparation during the week. We have to prepare better as far as walk-throughs go. It starts in the meeting room – getting the gameplan, listening and understanding the gameplan, executing during walk-throughs, and then doing it in practice. If you go into a game well-prepared, you can play fast and have fun doing it. It takes all the thinking out of it. And then after that, it has to be a mentality. First, starting with our fundamentals – we have to be fundamentally sound. Up front, we’ve got to keep our pads down, we’ve got to get off the ball – that’s what we’re asked to do. Get off the ball – it starts with us. Or our linebackers getting the right reads and the back end just filling in, wherever it may be. And then after that, it’s just about beating the man in front of you and having the mentality of ‘If we start this game fast, we can get the momentum on our side right now and we can make a run.’ So really, all of it is a mentality we have to have starting a game out. We have to see blood in the water – we’ve got to be sharks. We have to be.”
(On if defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier has helped players out this week by giving information about Minnesota players’ tendencies)
“It’s a completely different group up there. So he can help a little bit, but things have changed a lot since last year. Just like it was with our coaching staff from last year or the players that switched to this season – you know a little bit, but not really much. He helped out a little bit with a slight insight, but that’s pretty much it.”
(On if defensive line coach Joe Cullen is optimistic or upset with the defensive line not having a sack in the last two games)
“It’s a little bit of both. He gets after us pretty good. Coach Cullen and Coach [Mike] Phair are awesome coaches. They’ve been awesome since they got here. They were disappointed in our performance. In the New Orleans game, it’s not like we were not getting hits on Drew Brees, it’s not like we were not getting pressure. But there were times where we made small mistakes like going for the pump fake, guys not spinning back, coming back at the level and running past the quarterback, guys just being in place. So we could’ve had tons of sacks in that game. And last week, it was a number of different things why we didn’t get there. But we definitely have to win our one-on-ones, and they’ve been emphasizing that – guys just winning a one-on-one. It come down to you versus him, and whether his family’s going to eat or whether your family’s going to eat. It’s simple as that.”
(On if the week off improved his hand injury)
“Yeah. If I didn’t play a sport, my hand would already be healed. But since I do and my position requires me to use my hands quite often, my hand has taken a little longer to be fully healed. But it’s definitely been healing up.”
(On what problems Minnesota quarterback Teddy Bridgewater presents)
“One, he’s smarter than I think people give him credit for, and that’s why he was able to step in so soon. He makes your rookie mistakes. Every rookie makes the same mistakes. But one thing he can do is he can get north and south in a hurry, really, really quickly. Even with the [injured] ankle, he can still hurt you with his legs. I don’t even want to call it ‘sneaky athletic.’ He uses it when necessary, but when he does use it, he can kill you. So we have to be prepared for that. One thing that he does do that a lot of rookies sometimes have issues with is he will sit in the pocket and make the throw. He’ll sit there until he gets the right throw and he’ll take the hit just to make the right throw. But if we don’t corral him and get him uncomfortable, he can hurt you with his legs.”
(On if the defense will try to confuse Bridgewater because he is a rookie)
“You can [try to]. Rookies at quarterback, sometimes when they see a lot of things, a lot of smoke and mirrors, they get to thinking a lot. I think he’s one where he just makes a simple check and goes with it. He doesn’t really try and overthink it. He sees his read and he goes from there. But I definitely believe with some of our disguises, we can fool him a little bit. But all of that really doesn’t matter if we don’t beat the man in front of us. If you’re supposed to guard this guy, guard him. If you’ve got the guard, beat him. If you’ve got the guard and the tackle, beat them. It doesn’t matter. We’ve just got to win our battles.”
(On how players are responding to Lovie Smith and his style of coaching)
“He’s an awesome coach. He’s a player’s coach and he’s a hands-on coach. Actually, coach [Greg] Schiano was a hands-on coach too. But they just go about it different ways. A lot of it is not his coaching, just to be honest. You see a lot of interviews with players from all around the league. Players will say it’s this, it’s that. No – it’s us. We’ve just got to be tougher. I’m just going to say it. Everybody. We have to be tougher. Mentally and physically. It’s a lot of times where you’ll look on tape, guys are just sitting on blocks. Why? A lot of times where guys are just holding up blocks. No. Move them out of the way. Get open. If you’re at the corner, get off the block. Come help out. If you’re supposed to drop to ten yards, then drop to ten yards. Don’t drop at eight. It’s just mentally and physically, we have to get tougher. And it’s not Coach Smith. It’s us. He prepares us well every day. He comes in optimistic regardless of what happened every day. You won’t ever hear him raise his voice. But when he speaks, everybody listens and you feel what he’s saying. But us, as players, we just have to have much more of a killer’s mentality. When that whistle blows, you step across those white lines, you’ve just got to turn into something else. We’ve got to do it across the board.”
(On if it takes a fiery speech from someone on the team to fire them up)
“I’ve been seeing talking for five years. We’ve done enough talking. It’s time to play. Simple as that. I’ve given speeches, Lavonte [David] has given speeches, Vincent Jackson has given speeches, Josh McCown has given speeches. It’s enough talking. We have to start playing. It’s simple as that. The talking is not going to get it anymore. I’ve been hearing talking and speeches for five years. It’s time to start seeing action. Simple as that.”
(On if the team needs to be more physical and tough)
“Yeah. If you look out there on tape and you see a bunch of guys sitting on blocks, are you not earning the title of being soft? I mean, guys get so sensitive around the league, but we have to be men. This is a man’s league. This is a man’s league. We’re professionals. Guys have issues with criticism. I’ve been getting criticized since I’ve been in the NFL. I don’t even feel it anymore. It is what it is. We have to accept what happened, like I did last week. If you don’t have a good day at the office, just say that. Not everybody has great games. I believe Michael Jordan is the best basketball player in history. A lot of people might not agree with me, but I think so. He’s had plenty of bad games. So what? What he does is [he] sees what he did wrong, accepts what he did wrong, and you fix it. And I don’t think we’re doing enough of that. I think we’re making too many excuses. There’s always a reason why this is happening, why that’s happening. It has to stop. We just have to say, ‘OK, I did wrong, I didn’t win that one, I have to win the next one, and I have to win the one after that.’ [If] you’re winning 70 percent of your battles, you’ve got a shot to win. Simple as that.”
(On if it takes a fiery speech from someone to fire up the team before games)
“Well, if that was the case, I’m sure everybody would have hired somebody in every locker room in the league to get them fired up. But no, for us, it’s just been our performance on the field. We recognize that and we believe we’re doing everything in our power to correct it and get off to a better start. It’s all three phases of the game. Offensively, we’ve got to keep some drives going. Defensively, obviously trying to get an early stop, an early three-and-out, get us the ball. We’re just going to keep working as a team, as a unit to get that straight.”
(On the reports that multiple teams are interested in acquiring him and if the reports are flattering)
“Of course. In this business, those kind of things get talked about quite often. Each and every year, there’s going to be guys that are moved around to different teams. I’m not surprised by it. Obviously I appreciate, I guess, some teams’ interest, but I’m happy here in Tampa. I’ve heard nothing here that would suggest I’m going anywhere. So I’m just going to let that pass on and keep doing my job.”
(On how much desire he has to be on a team that can contend for the playoffs and a Super Bowl victory)
“That’s exactly what I want to do here. Bringing Lovie in and the staff that he’s brought, his mentality and his goals are aligned with mine and I think a lot of guys in this locker room. So I hope for us to start the tradition here of winning football in Tampa Bay, and I hope to stay in this uniform and this jersey and help bring that here.”
(On if it is disruptive to have a possible quarterback change)
“It hasn’t been. Obviously, we’re just going to go with who’s healthy and who’s playing good ball. Both guys are obviously very talented, very capable and have had success in this league. Coaches make those decisions. As players, we’re not concerned about it. We know whoever’s at the helm, we’re going to go out there and we’re going to be successful.”

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